‘Deputy who evaded death’ preps for return to the field March 1

Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 5:24 PM CST
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PEORIA (25 News Now) - If you ask Peoria County Deputy Tim Gilmore about how he cheated death in May of 2022, he responds with a humble chuckle, saying he’s just happy to be here.

The father of two young girls was severely injured when a pickup truck hit him from behind on Interstate 74 in Tazewell County. Gilmore was returning from a training session in Galesburg. After the accident, investigators discovered the truck went nearly 100 miles per hour.

The squad car rolled over multiple times before landing in the median. The results ball of metal and deployed airbags is barely recognizable as a car, save for the “Peoria County Sheriff” logo on the side. The driver later faced several citations.

Peoria County Sheriff's Office squad car following Tuesday afternoon crash on I-74.
Peoria County Sheriff's Office squad car following Tuesday afternoon crash on I-74.(Peoria County Sheriff's Office)

Gilmore remembers getting hit, and a couple of the spins. He landed upside down, removed his seatbelt, and climbed out of the car. At first, he felt fine and felt only some soreness in his ribs. He wouldn’t understand the severity of his injuries until later at the hospital.

“I didn’t think I was too badly hurt, my ribs were kinda sore... maybe it was denial I don’t know,” Gilmore said.

He sustained five broken or cracked ribs, a lacerated spleen and liver, broken bones in the face, and several bruises up and down his legs. He remained in the hospital for eight days, and then returned home to his wife and family to recover for the next nine months.

As an avid powerlifter and hunter, Gilmore is brawny, tough stock. Suddenly, simple tasks like walking through his house or going to the bathroom became exhausting.

“My wife she’s the real hero because she helped me for the first month let getting dressed,” Gilmore said. “It sucks because you’re used to being able to do all these things without needing any help.”

“I remember thinking I’m never going to be able to get back to where I was. I was too hurt,” he continued.

He recovered at home with the company of his two daughters, ages 3 and 5. He eventually began physical therapy and rebuilding strength. He returned to work at the sheriff’s office in late October on desk duty.

“I hate office jobs, so this is torture for me,” Gilmore said. He’s eager to return to the field on March 1. He said he likes getting out into the community and meeting citizens. He also likes knowing he can help people in distress or make arrests that provide justice.

Gilmore is the sheriff’s West Peoria Community Officer, along with Deputy Drake Hart.

While he hasn’t been out in the streets, he has had the opportunity to reconnect with his fellow officers. He said they are a friendly group, all of whom have supported him during his return, though the group thrives on playfully making fun of each other. For every joke is an act of kindness: One coworker made a cane to help him walk through the office.

“They make me a better police officer, hopefully, I make them a better police officer when I come back,” Gilmore said.